Men's Basketball Drops Heartbreaker to Florida, 66-65

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Alabama fell in the final minute against SEC foe Florida Thursday night.
Alabama fell in the final minute against SEC foe Florida Thursday night.

Feb. 4, 2010

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Senior guard Mikhail Torrance scored a game-high 22 points to go along with five assists, but it wasn't enough as the Alabama men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker to Florida, 66-65, Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum. The game was the first meeting between Alabama head coach Anthony Grant and his former mentor, Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

"It certainly was a tough loss against a very good conference opponent," Grant said. "I felt like the guys we had on the floor battled and we fought. They made a great play at the end to go up one. They did a good job of getting back and forcing a tough shot. We were fortunate to retain possession, but again, we weren't able to finish."

It was the third conference loss Alabama has suffered this season by one point and just Florida's fifth win in Coleman Coliseum in 32 tries. The Crimson Tide drops to 13-9 (3-5 SEC) on the season while the Gators improve to 16-6 (5-3).

Torrance connected on 5-of-11 three-point baskets, tying a career-high for made three-pointers. It was Torrance's sixth 20-point game of the season. Also scoring in double-figures were sophomore forward JaMychal Green and freshman forward Tony Mitchell, dropping in 14 and 10 points, respectively.

In the first half of play, neither squad could gain any noticeable advantage over the other as the lead had changed nine times by the 7:58 mark. Over the next 2:24 however, the Tide would go on an 11-2 scoring run to lead by eight, 34-26.

Florida answered back with a 7-0 run of their own to bring the score back to within one point with 1:53 remaining in the half. The Gators couldn't manage to regain the lead on their next possession.

Freshman forward Tony Mitchell grabbed the defensive rebound with nine seconds left and drove the ball down the court, sinking a three-point basket at the buzzer which lifted Alabama to a 37-33 lead as they headed to the locker rooms for halftime.

The Tide held onto its lead into the second half until a successful two-point jumper by Florida's Erving Walker gave the Gators a two-point advantage, 48-46, with 11:49 remaining. Alabama had led for a total of 15 minutes and 35 seconds without a tie or trailing from the 7:58 mark in the first half.

Over the next 6:26, both teams stayed close while the lead switched four more times. Florida would push their lead to six points with 3:22 remaining in the game, but a determined Alabama team cut the lead to just one point on an Anthony Brock free throw with 1:09 left in the game.

A jumper in the paint by Torrance with 42 seconds left gave Alabama the lead one last time, 65-64. Florida was able to get off a shot with 11 seconds on the clock to take the lead back, 66-65, which would turn out to be the final score.

With just over three seconds remaining, the Tide had one last chance inbounding the ball from under the basket. Unfortunately, the inbounds pass was knocked away by a Florida defender, resulting in the clock running out with no chance for a shot by Alabama.

"I have to take the blame for that," Grant said. "We had two opportunities to get the ball in bounds. Florida did a good job of putting pressure on the in-bounds pass, and unfortunately we weren't able to get it in bounds. That one's on me. We weren't able to come out and do what we needed to do to get the win."

For just the third time in the past 10 games, the Tide allowed its opponent to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. While Alabama also shot well, connecting on 22-of-49 (44.9%) from the field, the Gators made 27-of-54 (50%). Florida was also able to knock down 7-of-18 (38.9%) three-point baskets, though Alabama edged the Gators in this category, shooting 9-of-21 (42.9%).

In a game that saw the score tied on nine occasions and the lead change 16 times, the most glaring statistic was the rebounding and second chance scoring, in which Florida held the advantage in both. The Gators grabbed 35 boards off the glass while the Tide managed just 24 rebounds. Florida scored 21 points on second chance opportunities to Alabama's six.

Next up for the Tide are back-to-back road games against ranked opponents. Alabama will battle No. 25 Mississippi on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 5:00 p.m. before facing off with No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 8:00 p.m.